Accessibility Icon
Search icon.Shopping cart icon.
BBB accredited business. A plus rating.
Trustpilot 4.6 star rating.

DOT Hazmat Regulations: What You Need to Know

Hazardous materials are no joke. Nearly 425,000 American employees had to miss work due to workplace exposure to harmful substances in 2020. Nearly 700 workers died.

That's why DOT hazmat regulations are so strict. If you want to keep your employees safe and avoid fines, you need to know what these regulations are.

How must you train your employees before they start transporting hazardous materials? What documents do you need to fill out? When should you report accidents?

Answer these questions and you can keep your employees safe and free from hazards for years to come. Here is your quick guide.

DOT Hazmat Training Requirements

The DOT requires all carriers of hazardous materials to train their employees. Employees should understand what hazardous materials are and how DOT hazmat regulations function.

You should give your employees function-specific training. This is training that is specific to the job your employee is performing. A driver should learn how to drive a vehicle without spilling or damaging hazardous materials.

All employees must receive security training within 90 days of being hired. They should learn about the risks associated with transporting hazardous materials. They should also learn about how they enhance their security and respond to emergencies.

Training must occur every three years. It also must occur whenever an employee receives a promotion, regardless of what their job is. Your employees should receive DOT hazmat certification after completing their training.

Classifications of Hazardous Materials

The DOT classifies hazardous materials into a few categories. You need to understand these categories so you can complete your paperwork properly.

Class 1 is explosives. All gases fall under Class 2, including ones that can cause fires. Class 1 materials can cause fires, though flammable liquids fall under Class 3 and solids under Class 4.

Class 5 is for oxidizers, which can spark fires and explosions if they react with oxygen. Class 5 materials include pool chemicals, halogens, and nitric acid.

Poisonous substances fall under Class 6. Class 6 also contains infectious substances like COVID-19 test samples or medical waste.

Radioactive material is in Class 7. Nuclear fuels are the most common Class 7 substances, but exit signs that contain tritium also count as hazardous materials.

Corrosion materials are in Class 8. Lead acid batteries and degreasers can be hazardous, especially if they spill onto a person's skin. All other hazardous materials fall under Class 9, including any substances that can damage soil or water.

Shipping Papers

A shipping paper is a document that discusses a hazard. You should file a shipping paper whenever you are transporting hazardous material.

The paper should contain details about what the hazard is, including what class it is. You must also indicate where the material is going and give an emergency response phone number. The person transporting the material must be able to call this number at any time and get help.

You must keep your papers in your office for a year. Purchase a filing cabinet to store your papers in and use a categorization system so you can access your papers efficiently.

Labeling Requirements

Title 49, Part 172, Subpart E of the Code of Federal Regulations provides the regulations for labels. Follow the regulations to the letter, as you face fines for one incorrectly labeled package.

You must label any container or package with hazardous materials in it. The label must be on a surface that is visible to people from a distance. It must contrast with the background and not be obscured by other labels.

Your label must be in the shape of a diamond. The text should be in black, and it should contain an image reflective of the hazard. For a poisonous gas, you can put a skull and crossbones near the top of the diamond.

At the bottom of the diamond, you should include the class of the material. In the center of the diamond, you can have a one or two-word description of the hazard. "Explosive material" or "flammable" is all you need to write.

Security Plans

Every company that transports hazardous materials must create its own security plan. The plan must describe what kinds of materials company employees work with. The plan should detail how employees can evacuate from the building or their vehicle if an accident occurs.

All employees must receive training in the security plan. You can implement a DOT hazmat test that tests your employee's knowledge of the plan.

Incident Reporting

You need to report any accident that causes a death, hospitalization, or traffic emergency. You also must report any fire, radioactive contamination, or spill, regardless of the material.

An employee in your company needs to call the Department of Transportation as soon as your company finds out about the accident. If the spill involved pathogens or etiologic agents, you also need to contact the CDC. After you've made your phone call, you need to fill out a written report.

Incidents can occur at any stage of the transportation process. If chemicals spill in your facility before they get into a vehicle, you need to talk to the DOT. You do not have to report a spill that causes a minor injury, though you may want to revise your safety strategies.

The Essentials of DOT Hazmat Regulations

You need to follow dozens of DOT hazmat regulations. All employees must receive training, which should include a DOT hazmat practice test. They should know the classifications of hazardous materials so they can write formal documents with them.

File a shipping paper for any container with hazardous waste in it. Label each container and include the hazmat category in the shipping paper and label. Develop a security plan that describes steps you will take to report incidents.

Your employees can get familiar with these regulations through classes. Compliance Training Online provides premium DOT training courses. Browse our selection today.



Your time is valuable. We've designed our site to be as fast as possible.

Easy to use

You'll never get lost or confused with us.

Immediate Access

There's no waiting period. Begin the course as soon as you sign up.

Anywhere Anytime

Internet connection and a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Up to date

We update our courses as soon as new regulations come out.